Board of Parole Hearings
Nonviolent Offender Parole Hearings for Indeterminately-Sentenced Inmates


Overview

A nonviolent offender parole hearing is a parole suitability hearing for an inmate sentenced to an indeterminate term (life with the possibility of parole) under an alternative sentencing scheme (such as California’s Three Strikes Law) for a nonviolent offense. Under this parole hearing process, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation refers certain nonviolent offenders to the board for a parole hearing and possible release, once the inmate has served the full term of his or her primary offense and has passed a public safety screening. All of the general information about parole suitability hearings is applicable to nonviolent offender parole hearings. For general information about parole suitability hearings, go to the Parole Suitability Hearings page.

The nonviolent offender parole hearing process was enacted by emergency regulations filed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that took effect on January 1, 2019. Implementation of nonviolent offender parole review hearings was mandated by the passage of Proposition 57, The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, approved by the voters in November 2016. See also In re Edwards (Sept. 7, 2018, B288086) __Cal.App.4th__ [237 Cal.Rptr.3d 673]. Referrals of nonviolent offenders to the board for parole hearings began in January 2019.

Inmates who are Eligible for a Nonviolent Offender Parole Hearing

Only nonviolent offenders sentenced to an indeterminate term (life with the possibility of parole) are eligible for a nonviolent parole hearing. The inmate must have completed the full term of his or her primary offense, which is the single crime for which a court imposed the longest term of imprisonment. For purposes of determining an inmate’s primary offense, the term of imprisonment for inmates sentenced to a life term under an alternative sentencing scheme for a nonviolent crime shall the be the maximum term applicable by statute to the underlying nonviolent offense. Additionally, the inmate cannot have a conviction for a violent felony (as defined in Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (c)) associated with his or her current incarceration. Inmates who are required to register as a sexual offender under Penal Code section 290 are also not eligible for a nonviolent offender parole hearing.

Inmates sentenced to an indeterminate term for nonviolent offenses will be screened for eligibility for a nonviolent offender parole hearing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Once an inmate is determined to be eligible for the process, the department will determine when the inmate will have served the full term of his or her primary offense. This date is called the inmate’s nonviolent parole eligible date (NPED). Inmates who are screened will be provided written notice from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of their eligibility and their nonviolent parole eligible date. Eligibility determinations are subject to appeal by an inmate through the department’s inmate appeals process.

When Eligible Indeterminately-Sentenced Nonviolent Offenders will be referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for a Parole Suitability Hearing

At least 180 days before an inmate’s nonviolent parole eligible date, his or her institutional record will be electronically screened to determine if he or she meets certain public safety screening criteria. An inmate meets the public safety screening criteria if all of the following are true:

  • The inmate is not currently serving a Security Housing Unit term and has not been assessed a Security Housing Unit term in the past five years;
  • The inmate has not been found guilty of certain serious rules violations within the past five years;
  • The inmate has not been placed in a restricted work group (Workgroup C) in the past year;
  • The inmate has not been found guilty of two or more serious rules violations within the past year;
  • The inmate has not been found guilty of any rules violations involving drugs and has not refused to provide a urine sample in the past year;
  • The inmate has not been found guilty of any rules violations involving a security threat group (i.e., gang-related activity) within the past year;

If an inmate meets the public safety screening criteria, he or she will be referred to the board for a parole suitability hearing and possible release. If an inmate does not meet the public safety screening criteria, the inmate will be screened again one year from the date of his or her last public safety screening.

Eligible inmates referred to the board will be scheduled for a parole hearing as follows:

  • Indeterminately sentenced nonviolent offenders who are eligible for an initial parole hearing on or before December 31, 2020 and who, on January 1, 2019, had been incarcerated for 20 years or more and who are within five years of their Minimum Parole Eligible Date (MEPD) will be scheduled for a hearing no later than December 31, 2020.
  • All other indeterminately sentenced nonviolent offenders who are eligible for an initial parole hearing on or before December 31, 2021 shall be scheduled for a parole hearing no later than December 31, 2021.

Inmates who are electronically screened will be provided written notice of the outcome of the screening by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Referral decisions are subject to appeal by the inmate through the department’s inmate appeal process. Inmates who are referred to the board will be provided a written explanation of the board’s parole suitability hearing process.

What to Expect after a Nonviolent Inmate is Referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for a Parole Suitability Hearing

Inmates will receive written notice about six months in advance of their parole suitability hearing date. Notices of the hearing will be sent to victims and their family members who are registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services. The board will also send a notice to the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the inmate. For more information about the parole suitability hearing process,check the Parole Suitability Hearings Overview page..

Victims

Victims who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend an inmate’s parole suitability hearing or who would like to request notice of an inmate’s release must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services. For further information, please visit CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services website or call toll-free 1-877-256-6877.